Our vision at Grace is to see God's grace changing lives. That's our heartbeat as a church.
Below is a collection of recent stories and lives that have been changed by God and his grace. Celebrate with us by checking out the content below, and we'd love to hear from you when you're ready to share how God's grace is changing your life too!
I thought I knew the Lord until my life came crashing down. My husband left, my anger was horrible, and I was consumed by control. After my husband left and I was alone, I began a relationship with the Lord. I haven't looked back. I have never known the Lord like I do now. Grace Bible Church and the counseling I received from Pastor Keith helped me build my life again. My Lord and Savior has been my provider, my hope and my future. He has carried me through my unbelief and my despair. He has shown me that I have to rely on Him for everything. He has fundamentally changed who I am. I am here to say that I am not just a follower of Jesus but that I am returning to my first love.
As a loving Father, God’s never given up on me. He’s taught me that true joy can only come from Jesus. He’s shown me just how well he knows me and how much he loves me through a multitude of ways, big and small – the right song, encouraging fellowship, a meaningful conversation, the perfect verse. I’ve learned the most expected thing is the unexpected, and that’s okay. I need not worry, but love and follow Jesus… and in turn, pour out his love and encouragement onto others. I’m being baptized to celebrate the Spirit’s work through me to follow Christ and make known that my life is dedicated to Jesus!
– Lena Husnay
Man of Sorrows
2016, a friend invited me to Grace Bible Church while my husband was deployed. I decided to give it a go and came to Grace a couple times. I liked the atmosphere and I liked the messages so I continued to come and then one day as the band was singing, the main vocalist sang this verse from “Man of Sorrows,”
"Beaten mocked and scorned
Bowing to the Father's will
He took a crown of thorns"
Something moved in me, I felt a presence and realized God IS for me, so much that he sent his son to suffer for MY sins, the same sins that drove me away from HIM in the first place. I cried and accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior.
– Mariela Perez Deleon
My New Home
“Growing up, my family attended church every Sunday. I was a member of my youth group, sang on the praise team, and understood that my sin separated me from God. However, I didn't establish a personal relationship with Jesus until my junior year of college. It's amazing to see how God so perfectly orchestrates our lives: he placed a girl who was on fire for the Lord as my student teaching partner and her invitation to join her small group has forever changed my walk with Jesus. Because of Rachel's invitation I began to have the truth of the Gospel poured over me on a weekly basis, constantly reminded of the sacrifice that Jesus payed for me. Because of Rachel's invitation, I finally understood that grace is a free gift and that salvation has nothing to do with what I do, but what Jesus has done. The transition from college into the working world isn't easy, but Jesus has been working in my life in incredible ways. He has blessed me with a community of believers in my new home and, through his word, I am constantly reminded that he has a plan for my life- a plan that is so much more incredible than I could ever have imagined. My hope is to pour into others the way that Rachel poured into me; to change lives by speaking the truth of the Gospel. I'm here today because my identity is in Christ. I'm so excited to take this next step and follow where the Lord is leading me.”
– Madeline Colthorpe
My Life Was Missing Something
“As a child, I was taught that Jesus existed but was never really taught or shown his teachings. After I had my first child three years ago I developed severe anxiety and felt as if my life was missing something. After I had my second child this past December something in me told me that I needed to go to church. A friend of mine told me about Grace Bible Church and from that very first Sunday, I truly believe I found what was missing in my life. Knowing and believing that Jesus is with me and knowing that I'm not suffering alone has lifted a weight off of my heart. Accepting Jesus into my life has helped me become a better wife and a better mother. Unlike me, my children will grow up knowing Jesus and they will learn through my conduct and my actions. I have been a part of an amazing community group and I can say firsthand why Grace encourages joining them. My community group has given me the opportunity to meet other followers of Christ and hearing their stories and how Jesus has walked with them is so inspiring. As I continue to learn and follow the teachings of Christ, I am ready to be baptized and obey what God has called me to do.”
– Baptism Testimony
Security and Reassurance
Prior to accepting Jesus and even being introduced to the Gospel, I was not someone who thought much about God or anything beyond myself. I struggled to be confident and was very self-conscious. I was constantly concerned about what other people thought of me. Jesus was first shared with me when I was a high school student attending a Young Life club. A friend of mine invited me to attend Young Life summer camp after participating with Young Life in Virginia Beach. During my time at this camp, the gospel was shared with me and I accepted Jesus as my savior. I believe that my sin separates me from God, but the death and resurrection of Jesus makes it possible for me to have a relationship with Him. I am still someone who struggles with being far too concerned with what others think of me; however, I lean on Jesus to know He is truly the only One whose opinions matter. What security and reassurance there is in that! I'm here to confirm and declare I am a follower of Jesus Christ and want to be baptized. I want to continue to live my life for Jesus and follow him.
– Baptism Testimony
I accepted Christ at 4 years old but I wandered away during high school, college, and for many of my years in the Marine Corps. Only after getting married did I fully realize the vital importance of giving Jesus the steering wheel of my life and letting him take control. Becoming a father further codified that realization as I felt every day the gravity and responsibility of choosing to let him lead, not just myself, but my whole family as we walk together in him. The closer I walk with Jesus, the more parallels I see among Christian life, family life, and life in the Marine Corps. Jesus was a servant leader, whom I seek to emulate on a daily basis, and I use every opportunity to lead with humility and by example. Loving my Marines, my family, and my Savior all make me better a better leader, husband, father, and son. I am here to take the next step in love and obedience to Christ, because, as He said, "If you love me, keep my commands" (John 14:15).
– Baptism Testimony
“On our Serve and Learn Trip to Nicaragua, we attended church services, provided two days of VBS, visited homes of the elderly, and spent time together in worship and fellowship. One of our team members was baptized in the local river. Each of us made lifetime connections with our brothers and sisters in Christ on a global scale, and we learned to listen more carefully for the voice of God as he gently coaxes us in every situation to serve others in his name.”
Loved and Welcomed
“Before I found my faith, I felt like I was holding on to a lot of the wrongdoings in my past. I came to GBC because my friend had been trying to get me to come to a service. I started by attending Starting Point and immediately felt so welcomed by Susan and Whit Hill. From there, I began attending 9am service. Pastor Eric’s sermons are hilarious, lively, and relatable.
Within the few months I’ve been attending GBC, I’ve never felt so welcomed and loved within the community. Church can be daunting when you’re new to faith. However, I’m thankful for giving this church a chance. I truly feel at home and at peace.”
“I did not grow up in a Christian home. I know that as a family the goal was to always keep the illusion of happiness. In reality, there was a lot of pain, silence, hurt, anger, and sadness. Growing up I never felt wanted or like I ever fit in. I went through a very dark period where I fell into the grips of alcohol addiction. I would hear other people talk about God, but the idea of God just seemed too big for me. I was invited to a Christian recovery meeting and people there prayed over me and I felt the overwhelming sense of peace I was always seeking. I barely made it out of the parking lot before I pulled over and cried out to God to help me. I surrendered my life and addiction to Christ. I began to meet other Christians who taught me about having a personal relationship with God and that his love for me was infinite. I began attending church at Grace and soon starting serving on the hospitality team. I celebrated 3 years sober in September. Service and my relationship with Christ is key to my sobriety today. I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ and want to get baptized as a symbol of God’s grace and my new life founded in Christ.”
Stepping into Baptism
I grew up in a Christian family as a kid but when my parents split when I was eight, we stopped going. It has been a struggle for me to find my way back as I got older and then when I finally got settled into a church I liked, I went off into the Navy. Since I have been in Virginia it has taken me awhile to actually find a church that I like and that reminded me of home but I have found that in Grace. I have started to get involved in a church for the first time and it’s something I would like to continue. I am ready to take the step to follow what God has called me to do. As I get older and take the time to understand God's word, I find myself trusting it and believing what he is telling me. That is something I want for the rest of my life. I want God to continue to work through me for his kingdom. I have learned to trust the Lord and to let him have all the control, no matter what the situation is, because it is always in his hands and he knows what is best for us. I have done things that I hadn't thought were possible because I had God on my side. Even though I grew up in a Christian home I was never baptized. Now that I am older, I am able to understand what God commands me to do. I look forward to continuing on my path with God as I take the step to be baptized.
I have recently been stationed in Norfolk and immediately left while on deployment. This was difficult because I felt quite spiritually disconnected while away from family and without a church home. Fortunately, once I returned to Virginia in May, I decided to start attending Grace. My boyfriend and I began attending services in May and we realized Grace was a great fit for both of us right away! The worship, testimony and community outreach assured me I had found the church home God envisioned for me. I have not yet been baptized in my adult life but with one deployment under my belt, a great spiritual partner by my side, and embarking on a journey in a new place with a church home that has been the greatest blessing for us these past few months, God immediately called me to participate in Beach Baptism. I am so grateful to be a part of GBC!
- Whitney Morey
Faith and Trust
I'm twenty-two years old and the mother of one outgoing daughter. I grew up going to church as a young hcild with my grandparents and aunt. As I grew older I never understood who Jesus was or what he could do for my life, so I turned away from the Lord. When I turned nineteen, I found out I was pregnant. When I was six months pregnant, the relationship I was in ended and I was devastated. That day I got down on my knees, in the middle of my living room, put my face to the floor and crying, asked God what to do.
This was my starting point with the Lord. I was blessed with a supportive family, daycare for my daughter and a job that had perfect hous for my new lifestyle as a mother. This was when God put it on my heart to find a church for me and my daughter. I went to a few but none felt like home. That was when my uncle and aunt asked me to come to Grace. I could not begin to describe to you how much Grace felt like home. It was been a little over seven months that I've been at Grace and I've not only learned more about who Jesus is, but I am now a small group leader for middle schoolers. My life has changed all because I simply asked God to help. Even to this day, I'm amazed at how much God does for me. The biggest thing I've learned is to not say "never." When I thought there was no hope left, God changed my whole entire outlook and I'll forever be grateful. This is why I wanted to be baptized. God's power over our lives is something I can't put into words. You just have to have faith and trust.
- Maiya Clark
Numbness to JOY
“I was adopted from China when I was a baby. At 5 years old, my father suddenly died. This completely rocked my world. Although my mom continued to take my sister and I to church, my heart ached for how things used to be. The 3 of us visited Grace a few times, but went back to our former church, the one where we had worshipped with my dad.
I continued to feel numb...and my heart grew hard as I began my Middle School years. It was at this point that my mom felt led to go back to Grace. Now I know that God was leading us here. Almost as soon as we arrived at Grace, I got into serving with the children. I felt like it would be good to expand myself. Maybe I could relate to the kids, that I could have an impact on them. I was beginning to realize that I don’t have control of my own life, and I was coming to terms with that.
As I began to seek that Lord, He showed me that maybe I can help other kids who are struggling as well. So I volunteered to serve on Sonshine Island. I remember the first day I started. I remember that I fell in love with those kids. I remember my heart melting because I loved those kids so much. God was freeing me from a hardness that I had carried for so long. At the end of the school year, I moved up with them to Treasure Cove and I have grown right along with them. I felt this weight lift off of my heart that day. I just knew that was what I should do. And I thank God for placing me with those kids and with this team!”
- Amy, age 15
"My relationship with the Lord has blossomed so beautifully."
"My friend introduced me to GBC and there my relationship with the Lord has blossomed so beautifully. I met some amazing supportive and uplifting friends who have been very patient and loving with me. Through him they have assisted in conquering my timidy, anxiety, doubt, and fear. Jesus has been working in my every day life even in scary times. Today you can see him in me with the light he has provided for my soul.
"I want to glorify God all through the day.."
"In recent years, I began to notice an emptiness in my soul, a longing to understand better why God sent Jesus to us, and what faith really meant. I had felt his love and presence during some difficult times in my life, but then I didn't seem to think about it at other times. Did I really accept Christ as my Savior? Was I really willing to put God first above all other things? I was confused and didn't know how to open my heart to the Lord. I still didn't feel worthy. I knew that God had given me great gifts, but then I would turn around and sin without thinking about it. I was putting myself first, and not God.
Then I met my husband who invited me to Grace Bible Church on our second date. He told me about the community of believers here and how alive the love of Jesus is at GBC. God was working through my husband to help me be a true believer in Jesus. We prayed together every day, noticed how Jesus was working in our lives, and saw the truth. I witnessed the presence of the Holy Spirit all around me, and the forgiveness that has been given to all of us sinners when Jesus died for us. I want to glorify God all through the day and share His love with all those around me. Here I am Lord! I am yours Lord!"
"The light seems to shine on a cloudy day."
"When life gets heavy, I embrace the power of prayer, and the light seems to shine on a cloudy day. I realize that life might not go the way I want, but life is just the way Jesus planned it out to be, and I've learned to trust his will for me. Jesus is working in me by spreading love to everyone."
God is at work through GBC in India!
Grace Bible Church has a partnership with Glad Tidings India/India Bible Literature. GBC’s support of indigenous Christian churches in support of their own God given strategy provides women the ability to read and write through a Bible based course of instruction.
Twenty-five dollars per student provides ten months of classes held two hours each night for five nights per week. The program includes training and income for literacy teachers, writing slates and class materials, lessons on basic health, personal hygiene, nutrition, community sanitation, family relationships, basic finance, political rights, AIDS, leprosy and alcohol. Every graduate receives a Bible and many receive salvation, are baptized and attend church.
All of the women in the photo had believed in the Hindu gods and many recently received Jesus as Lord and Savior. They wrote their names on slate tablets and held them high for all to see with beaming smiles. One of the women took us outside on the street to show how she now knew the value of numbers and money which enabled her to sell vegetables and earn two dollars a day to help feed her family. It was a phenomenal blessing to see how funds entrusted to GBC through the faithful giving of of our members is used by God to bring the lost from death to life and build his Church for his glory.
"I would be giving him my life, no holds barred."
"I was married to a verbally abusive man who made me feel worthless and as I laid in bed one wondrous day, I recalled the words that I was brought up to know that there was one who loved me through all my past deeds, my failures, my disappointments, my worthlessness: Jesus Christ. I picked up my Bible and searched for the words that would bring him into my life. But, I knew it wasn't just the words that needed to be spoken. It was the acceptance of the fact that I would be giving him my life, no holds barred. And I did. I still feel the peace of that moment when I recall that day so long ago."
"My faith has been reinvigorated and I want everyone to know about it."
"Recently through Grace's sermons, praise songs, and Christian friends, my faith has been reinvigorated and I want everyone to know about it. So naturally I decided that I had to get baptized as soon as possible. At first, to be honest, I was nervous to take this huge leap of faith, and I wondered what people would say. But then I remembered one of my favorite verses- 1 John 4:18 "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." I am no longer fearful for this next step and my life, and I cannot wait to share this moment with others."
"Serving on the Grace music team has been an incredible blessing."
Serving on the Grace music team has been an incredible blessing to me and my family. Not only has it helped us to grow in our relationship with the Lord, but it has started some amazing friendships with many other Grace members. It has been a breath of fresh air, and an amazing part of our life. What I love most about Grace are the people. I love that we have so many different nationalities and different backgrounds serving on the team at Grace with room for more! Our team is always growing, and it is such a blessing to be able to serve with brothers and sisters from all stages in their walk with Christ.
Because of your generosity to give faithfully, we were able to bless schools in Togo, Africa with badly needed textbooks. Here’s one class celebrating and excited about their new books. We were able to give 24,000 books to be used to set up libraries at various schools!
"I felt this was a safe place for me to grow.."
“I serve in the Hospitality ministry. I come from an abusive background and struggle against multiple psychological afflictions that tend to drive me towards isolation. On top of this, I am the only one in my marriage and circle of friends that is a believer. Despite these challenges, I was coming to church on a regular basis and getting to know fellow believers. As I got to know the people at Grace, I was invited to join the Hospitality Ministry. While the idea of interacting more with people agitated some of my afflictions, I felt this was a safe place for me to grow and push past some personal barriers.
As I began serving, I quickly realized that I was being given an opportunity to not only receive encouragement from my ministry teammates and church family, but to give encouragement to others. In this role, I find ways to bless other people, and I've even taken some of that ministry into the world beyond the church by being hospitable to friends and coworkers. I have grown in experience and faith through volunteering in this ministry, and it all started by answering an invitation to serve.”
"I feel so much freedom in God's Word."
"I accepted Jesus into my life in 2014. I talk to him every day and feel a special relationship with him. My life has changed so much because of it. My daughter recommended I attend Community Group to learn more, and that was the best advice I received. I am so motivated to learn more and more! I have missed out on so much knowledge of the Bible and am excited to finally be aware. I've attended Grace regularly for four years. I am a private person, and was somewhat ashamed of my lack of knowledge about God and the Bible, and being baptized among people, but now I feel so much freedom in his Word. I look forward every Sunday for my time at Grace and the Word."
"My world has gone from terrible lows to amazing highs."
"Over the past year, my world has gone from terrible lows to amazing highs and I give all of that over to God's grace. GBC has been there for me this whole past year and brought me back when I had lost all hope. God has been guiding me in my struggles to just let go and give it all over to him."
"God began to change my whole outlook on life."
"I met God when I was in my early teens, trying to make sense of the life around me. There was great deal of hurt and complicated relationships in my family, and I knew there was another way to live. There was always something in me that knew there was more. I started attending GBC by myself, but it was there where I found out more about God and more about the life he wanted me to live.
God began to change my whole outlook on life, and he has been my best friend through the great joys and pains of my life. Even when I was confused, I knew I could always turn to him and feel a great sense of peace and belonging. Knowing him has changed my life in more ways than I could ever truly acknowledge, and has given me more than I could have ever hoped for."
"..But at this point I was desperate."
"One semester when I was in college, several other students and I took a test and failed due to a small mistake. There were three professors; two professors agreed that we had made a mistake, but the other one was ready you fail us. That day I went to my mom and told her what happened and she said to pray. I still didn't believe that God could change my professors heart, but at this point I was desperate. That night I sat in my room and for the first cried out to God. On Monday morning, God showed me that he was the boss. I ended up not failing and after that I started praying daily."
"All the weight was lifted."
"A few months ago, my fiancé and I had a discussion that let me to a night of thorough self-reflection. Frustration, selfishness, anger, stress, and guilt stirred within my heart and mind and all I was able to do was cry out to God. All the weight that was weighing me down felt as if it was lifted. From then, my perspective on life has shifted. I came from a point in time of always wanting to be in control, but the Lord has revealed and continues to reveal the plan he has for me. He has softened my heart, eased my mind, and comforted my soul.
Through my wonderful family and amazing Community Group, God's love and goodness motivates me to become the man he intends for me to be. I am here to profess that I am a follower of Jesus Christ!"
- Jon Jon
"Not one day goes by that I don't thank God.."
"It wasn't until I attended Grace Bible Church regularly with my children that I started to be in the Bible and realized how much deeper my relationship with God was because of it. I love going to church and listening to the sermons wanting to know him on a more intimate level. Now not one day goes by that I don't thank God for what he has done for myself and my children."
"I'm 110% ready to be a follower of Jesus Christ."
"When I got stationed here in Virginia Beach, I looked online for a church to start attending. Then someone at my shop said, "Hey you should check out Grace!" So I made my first visit here and I'm so glad to be able to join Grace every Sunday. Now I'm ready. I'm ready to put God above anything else, to serve him, and ready to see what he has in store for me. I'm 110% ready to be a follower of Jesus Christ."
"I didn't know what to do but to drop to my knees and pray."
"This past year was very hard on me. I faced challenges I never expected in my life. There were many times I didn't understand why certain things were happening. There were days when I felt the greatest sadness I've ever known. There were times when I didn't know what to do but literally drop to my knees and pray. I knew the Lord was there and would hear my prayers. The trials and tribulations were multifold and I felt like God was testing my faith. All I could do was hang on to it. Although I experienced pain like never before, in some ways I'm thankful for what I went through. I've always thought there is reason for everything that happens. Relationships have grown including mine with God."
"The light of God lights my path."
"Before following God's path, I was drowning in pain and sorrow and darkness by choice. My best friend pointed me to a recovery group at Grace and that is how i discovered how life as a Christian could be. I have let down the walls built on fear of being hurt to allow Jesus to soften and open my heart. I have started to listen for the whisper of the Spirit. I have looked towards the light of God to light my path. I want to be the person God intended me to be. I feel I can only walk so far down my path while still tied with the strings of my past. I chose to give him the deeds of my past, and I feel baptism will wash the stains of my sins away so I can walk fully in his light."
"Life Throws Its Curveballs, But I'm Leaving It All to God."
"I had accepted the Lord as my Savior when I was 18 years old. I am 29 now, and in the peaks and valleys of life I had sort of lost the close connection to God that I had once felt. I still went to church most of the time, and now and then I joined small groups but I never felt that "God spoke to me" feeling that I had heard so many people around me say.
One year ago I found myself a single mother to a 6-month-old baby girl. I was on my own, starting over with my daughter by myself. After a few months of getting back on my feet I knew that I was missing something. I had gone to Grace before and even volunteered in the Hospitality ministry. I now lived in Hampton and I had not found a church that I loved so I decided to go back to Grace. Soon after coming back I found the Single Moms' Community Group. I cannot even put into words how this group has saved me! I've never felt so welcomed into a group! The women are a wonderful support system and have great wisdom to share.
Just being back in church and being a part of the group helped realign my focus. Each Sunday the messages also seemed to speak directly to ME! Still, I had not felt like God had spoken to me yet. One day I was getting so frustrated trying to complete a task. So much anger was filling my heart and I just stopped and prayed and asked God to help me calm down and to let me know He was with me. And there it was. I was instantly SO calm and knew everything was going to be alright and I was able to complete the task! Since then I can feel God with me all the time. Life still throws its curveballs but I am leaving it all to God, and I know in my heart that it will all work out the way He has planned."
"I felt completely lost."
"I was going to the hardest time in my life recently and I felt completely lost. I began to wake up and pray every morning, attend Grace Bible regularly, and read the Bible. I was at my lowest point and I felt alone, unloved, unworthy and scared. Jesus was there to pick me up. He showed me that I could make it through anything since I had him in my heart. I began to wake up happy and I had peace. Jesus has shown me the path that I need to take. I have quit drinking and I have been sober for 27 days. I am giving back to my community and living a life that I am proud of. I could never have gotten here on my own."
"Without a rock you will sink."
"As I grew older, my sins were normal to me. Needless to say, any thought of God or my behavior became afterthoughts. When I was at work years ago, my boss stuck verses in my box from Matthew 7:24-27 about building your life on a rock. They have stuck with me until now. But, I didn't understand them until seven years later when I was at my lowest. The night I thought I would not go home and lost everything I loved, then I understood the the verses from Matthew. Without building a life on the God's words, sooner or later life will become unstable.
Since then, God has surrounded me with Christian people with strong faiths and seeing the life abundant they have. Since I have opened my heart and mind to believing that Jesus died for us, I have seen my life become amazingly blessed. Without a rock you will sink."
"If I put my faith in our God, I will grow stronger."
"I was not raised in a religious household. As a matter of fact, it was quite the opposite. Somehow though, I always knew God was there to embrace and love me, although everything seemed to be falling apart in my life.
I have always praised God silently when something good occurred or when I made it through something bad, but it wasn't until I began attending Grace that I really started listening to or understanding what God was trying to do in my life.
In the last couple of years I have been on a journey that has been both painful and difficult, yet also enlightening and freeing. I have made it through foreclosure, miscarriage, and divorce, yet feel like I have walked away with lessons and not scars. I know that this is because of our God and because of the reassuring lessons I am learning at Grace Bible Church.
I am a single mother and work two jobs, and I often feel overwhelmed. Life is still not perfect, but I feel safe and secure knowing that if I put my faith in our God, I will overcome and I will grow stronger. God replenishes for me what my tumultuous life often seems to steal away: my energy and joy. When I rest in him, I am full and I am calm. I look forward to growing more with the lessons he has set in front of me and I know that in him all things are truly possible."
"Jesus is guiding my every step."
"When I was 16, my best friend was in a fatal car accident not long after I had gotten out of the car. Instead of turning to God, I turned away. Last year I began to feel the need to seek Jesus. I needed his guidance. At the beginning of the year, I found my way to Grace Bible Church through the invitation of a friend. Now I look forward to every Sunday. I know this is where I belong and I no longer have to convince myself to believe, it comes naturally. I accept Jesus Christ into my heart and into my life. He is guiding my every step and I trust him."
"I can't imagine my life without serving."
"I have been at Grace for over 10 years now but I was a bit shaky on my faith for a good 4-6 years. It wasn't until I started serving that I really began to see that my faith can be used to help other's faith grow.
I started serving in 2010 as a Preschool Production Team member. As time went on, I then moved up to serving at Treasure Cove in 2013. I was REALLY into the production aspect of serving, but when I was asked to be a small group leader, I was hesitant. I thought, "What if the kids don't like me?" or "What if I mess up a lot?" But, as I started to really get into it, I discovered that the kids will learn to love you no matter what. It wasn't until about a year after I started being a small group leader that I noticed that the same kids kept coming back to sit in my circle. One of the biggest moments for me as a small group leader was when I started to be recognized by a parent. "Are you my son's small group leader?" one of the parents asked. "Because he absolutely cannot wait to come back and be with you week after week. It really makes me excited as a parent that he is this excited to come back to church every week to hear God’s Word." At that moment, I discovered how important this was. My attitude towards leading a small group went from 'I don’t think I can do it.' to 'I can’t imagine my life without it.'"
"This was when I could really see what blessings I have in my friends at Grace"
Last year, one of our high school students named Olivia got to experience community in a way that she never felt before. Early on at the Vertical Reality Fall Retreat, she got news that her grandfather went to be with the Lord. In a time of brokenness, she got to see her peers rally around her to give their prayers and support. “This was when I could really see what blessings I have in my friends at Grace” Olivia said. She was so overwhelmed by the love of the teenagers around her that Olivia decided to stay to see what the Lord would do that weekend.
"When I'm overwhelmed, I feel God's arms wrapped around me."
"Mental illness has always felt like a dirty word within the church, like it is sinful and should be hidden. I think that it's time to break those thoughts. My categories of mental illness include depression, anxiety, OCD, and dissociative amnesia. When I started going to therapy, I had never heard of dissociative amnesia but it is basically PTSD but with the inability to remember the trauma. I know most of the trauma from my life, but can't actually remember it or remember most of my life. I know my father was an alcoholic who was in and out of rehab, my mother was emotionally and verbally abusive, I dealt with physical and sexual abuse, I was suicidal, and I felt alone.
This was until my roommate introduced me to God in 8th grade. Back then, it was just something to cling to, knowing that it was a light at the end of the tunnel. Today, it has evolved to what feels like a friendship, and a friendship that I never want to lose. Today, memories are beginning to come back as I open myself up. They are painful as I begin to remember how evil this world can be, even to a child. God is with me and when I begin to be overwhelmed with pain, I feel God's arms wrapped around me helping me through.
Today, I still deal with depression, anxiety, OCD, and dissociative amnesia, but I've never been happier in the fact that I know God is always the best friend that I could have and he is walking with me through the darkness. And as I began coming to Grace, I've noticed a change in the fact that we all don't need to hide our past like it's some sinful horror story, but instead to rejoice in the fact of where God has placed us right in this second."
"Transformed What I Want to Do in My Life"
"Overall, my experience at Grace has really transformed what I want to do in my life.
Being on the Video Team helped determine my college major, being on the Production Team helped me discover how big teambuilding can be, and being a small group leader helped me find my passion for leadership.
Grace is a second home in my life and it is a place that is near and dear to my heart."
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Even More Stories
Be a Christian 7 Days a Week, 24 Hours a Day
I grew up in a Christian home and always knew of God's greatness. I strayed away for many years though and did my own thing and once in a while went to church. I was unhappy and felt empty. I felt like I needed to get back going to church. A friend told me about Grace Bible Church. I went one Sunday and have been coming ever since. I realize that to really live a Christian life and realize all of God's blessings, you have to be a Christian 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. I am commited now to serving Jesus and have rededicated my life to Christ. I want to share God's love with everyone. I am signed up for my first Serve and Learn Trip to Togo this summer. I always remember that poem, Foitprints in the Sand. Jesus was definately carrying me. I have been through a lot in my life and without Jesus, I would be nothing. I thank him everyday and am growing every day. Grace Bible Church has been a blessing to me and I thank God he has provided me with a great church to be involved in.
One-to-One Care at Grace
Learn more about our Stephen Ministry here.
Special Needs Ministry at Grace
"It’s hard to express how important it is for a family who has a child with special needs to be able to have a place to worship where when we walk in the door, we know that he or she will be loved and cared for by a buddy." Check out this video to learn more about this exciting ministry at Grace.
You can learn more about our Special Needs ministry here.
I Have a Savior Who Loves Me & Saved Me.
"I was raised in a Christian family and attended church every week. I was saved and baptized when I was in second grade and was extremely active in my youth group in middle school and high school. After high school I continued to be very active, teaching Sunday school and Cubbies.
When I was 22 I decided to enlist in the Navy and went off to boot camp. I slowly started moving away from my faith in the first couple years. After two years I had become every stereotype a “sailor” is known for. I put my faith and God last in my life and had built up a life that didn’t involve Him at all. In early 2014 I was sent to California for training. A few weeks into training everything that I had built up and lived for in the last year completely fell apart. Everything that I had made most important in my life was all gone over the course of 24 hours. I ended up in the darkest and most painful place I had ever been in my life. I was broken and desperate for anything that would help.
In those darkest moments all I knew was to fall back on what I used to know but had turned my back on. Desperately I started seeking God with help and guidance from a couple friends and my family. I read my Bible and any Christian books I could get my hands on. I prayed like I never had before. I had turned my back on Him but He still came back for me and saved me.
The next several months were painful but my relationship with my Savior grew so strong. I grew stronger in my faith than I had ever been and slowly changed the way I had been living. Since I have still struggled at times. Life has been far from easy or perfect. But no matter how bad it gets I have a Savior who loves me and saved me when I least deserved it. 'But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.'"
Marked by Christ - Jonathan's Story
A $36 Miracle
Jehovah Jireh, which translates 'Our God will provide', is one of the many names, or attributes, of our Heavenly Father. My husband and I were reminded of this very characteristic last week. We were sitting on the couch, looking grimly at our bank account, and realizing we were in the negative. It was a new low we have never experienced in the three and a half years of marriage. We started wondering how we could avoid the overdraft fees that would soon come. We sat in silence for about two minutes, and all of the sudden my husband got up and walked outside. Three minutes pass and he comes inside holding three pieces of mail. Two of them were just the typical junk mail coupons we always get. One, however, was an envelope addressed from our church - Grace Bible Church. Let me back up five minutes. Turns out, my husband clearly felt the Lord prodding him to get up and check the mail. Obeying even though very skeptical, he comes back with the letter from Grace with a check inside for $36. It was enough to get our account back to a positive standing. How often do you get a check in the mail from your church (haha)?!
Now I know a check for $36 doesn't sound like an earth shattering miracle, but for us, it was. It was a reminder of God's grace and unwavering faithfulness in our family's lives. He knows us and sees our individual specific needs. I could just picture Him with a huge grin on His warm loving face as my husband opened the envelope and brought it inside to me. How cool that Grace Bible Church was a tool in the hand of our Lord to display His grace and provision to us. Even in the midst of our doubt and unbelief, our Jehovah Jireh still remains unchanging to His character.
Let's be people who daily choose to see God's grace at work in our lives.
Great Seeds are Being Planted
We’re so excited about what God is doing in our Family Ministry at Grace! Check out this message from a mom:
“I wanted to tell you that my 8-year-old was excited on Saturday when I asked her if she wanted to practice singing and doing the songs and moves from church. She rushed in and wanted to learn the songs with me; it warmed my heart so much. My son also loves all the songs. Every day he asks for one of the church songs to be played and smiles ear to ear when he hears the music. He knows the lyrics to all of the songs. I know that great seeds are being planted in their hearts and souls.”
Ready & Excited for High School!
Making the transition from middle to high school is not easy. Transitions are a huge deal.
Knowing that, this past September our Family Ministry introduced a brand new event called Legacy to celebrate and challenge rising 9th grade students and their families. Check out what one parent had to say:
“I’m so grateful to belong to a church that really loves students. I could tell that every piece of this event was prayed over and created with love. From the decorations, to the funny games nothing was left to chance. The attention to detail was incredible. And Joey’s message—what a perfect choice of Scripture (2 Timothy 3-4)! I felt so special and cared for and I know my daughter did too. Thank you so much for making this such a special day for our family! We feel ready for high school, and we’re excited!! Thanks again!”
You can learm more about our incredible Family Ministry here.
Embracing Forgiveness after Decades of Remorse - Amy's Story
“The painful memories of the abortion immediately washed over me. It was 21 years ago and I remember it like yesterday. I had no idea what I was going to do, how I was going to tell my parents, or how I was going to raise a child on my own…” Check out this video for the rest of Amy’s powerful story.
If you’ve been affected in any way by an abortion and you’re struggling, we’d love to help! Please contact us at email@example.com and we’d love to connect you with powerful resources.
I've found the people I love most and I found God.
"When my dad told me the news that he'd gotten a new job across the country in Virginia, I was very angry and became very rebellious. When my family started attending Grace Bible Church, me being a dumb teenager, I didn't want anything to do with it. Then my dad told me about the high school youth group and made me try out for the band. That's when my life changed.
I met the Smelsers and they were the first people to touch my heart. They showed me what it looks like to be on fire for Jesus especially through music, which is my passion. I realized how much I needed God in my life and how meaningless my life felt.
I love youth group. The people and all the leaders soon became my family and the band became my best friends. I've found the people I love the most and I found God. If I had never moved to Virginia, I would not be the person I am today. Moving here was the best thing that happened in my life and I wouldn't change a thing."
- Adrianne, age 16
"I Learned so much in Nicaragua"
During my time in Nicaragua, I learned so much. The people there have almost nothing and yet they are so thankful for what they do have and have joy over little things like a coloring page and crayon, or a little pack of bubbles. I remember their joy when we were all playing kickball in a dirt road, which was so fun, and how hard having to hug them goodbye was.
I also remember one woman who we talked to; she lived in a shack on a dirt floor about as big as my living room. And yet she continued to say a blessing to the Lord for everything God gave her, whether that be a roof even though it might leak, or clothes, even if they don’t fit quite right. Even though I was the youngest team member in our group, on this trip God gave me eyes to see how his Kingdom is coming and how I can have a part."
- Anna Claire, Age 12
Learn more about trips like this one here.
2015 Summer's Best Week Recap Video
"Changed the Life of My Family & My Children's Children"
"I am 61 years old and I became a follower of Jesus Christ when I was 26 years old. As more and more time passes, it has become more evident to me how utterly desperate I am for Jesus. As I study his Word and spend time in prayer, I realize I've neglected this important step in my faith walk and I want to be obedient to what Jesus is calling me to do. I am his and he is mine. My identity is being his child, and he has poured his grace onto me abundantly. I am so thankful for what he has done for me on the cross.
I am also so thankful for the biblical teaching I've been receiving from Dean and Eric over the last year and a half at Grace. It has changed the life of my family and my children's children. I am completely overwhelmed and thankful for their ministry and solid teaching of God's Word. I had been looking for a church that taught the Scriptures for a longtime in Virginia Beach and I finally found one at Grace Bible Church."
"Friends is an Understatement"
"A couple years ago, my faith was beginning to tremble a bit. I was mourning the loss of my Nana, who I saw as the most godliest woman in my life. Aso my best friend had moved out of Virginia. It had gone on for awhile that my parents were pushing me to attend high school ministry at Grace. I found excuses not to go everytime until finally one day I snapped. I had to try out this youth group.
For the past three years, GBC has impacted me as a person a lot. I've never felt so close to Christ. I am forever grateful for the family I've gained because of GBC. I say family because 'friends' is an understatement.
Jesus has giving me hope in life and has been there for me every step of the way, being my great Guide and Comforter. He has blessed me so much in my life and I could never thank him enough for the grace he has given me."
- Leona, age 17
"Jesus has Repaired my Marriage"
"Before I accepted Jesus into my life, I felt alone when I was going through hard times. I've grown up in church but didn't really give my life to God fully until here recently. My marriage was falling apart and I'd been having troubles with my family. I had been attending Grace for a while with my husband and one day during worship I just started crying and thanking God for all he had done for me and I just really felt like it was time to love for him fully.
Jesus has truly repaired my marriage and my life and he's even blessed us with a baby! I'm 11 weeks so we don't know what it is yet but I know it's a blessing from God. I would like to thank the church staff for praying for us and for all their kind words and also my husband for walking on this journey with me."
"I am a New Man in Jesus Christ"
"I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior when I was a child. I never really understood the the reason to be baptized then. I began to pull away from God as I got older and started doing my own thing. God place my amazing wife right in the middle of my path. He has used her to reach me.
It wasn't until recently that we started attending Grace. The Holy Spirit began working on my heart and it became very apparent that Jesus was not the center of my life. I started reading my Bible once again and spending time in prayer with God... I want to obey God. I am starting fresh with Jesus and he has opened my heart to see and hear him. He lead me to the Men's Community Group on Wednesday evening. There I am connecting with other men who have the same desire to serve God and strengthen one another. I want to publicly say I am a new man in Jesus Christ and will obey his commands."
"The best thing about the story of the prodigal son is when he comes home."
"Growing up, I went through 12 years of rebellion. I turned to drugs, alcohol, women—I was in and out of rehabs, legal trouble, jail, you name it, I did it. The best thing about the story of the prodigal son is when he comes home. It was July of this past year, I got down on my knees and prayed to God and told him to do what he wanted with me…" (Check out this powerful video for the rest of the story).
Are you ready to learn more about being baptized? Learn more here.
A Scary Step of Faith & An Unexpected Gift
A young couple at our church depends on their tax return each year to get by, and this year got $5,500 back. After hearing a message on tithing, they were challenged to tithe even on the tax return. Even though they weren’t sure how they’d make it financially without the full amount, they stepped out to do the scary thing and tithed $550. Soon afterward, God blessed them with an unexpected gift of $5,500! How great is our God!
"Nobody Knew that I Was Living a Lie"
"Before accepting Jesus into my life, I lived most of my life depressed and always hurting on the inside. On the outside everyone always saw a very confident, successful girl who had a great life. However what nobody knew was that I was living a lie.
When I was 24 I had my daughter. She truly was a blessing to me. The love I felt for her I have never experienced before. She brought so much joy into my life; however, I really didn't think I was deserving of it. Six years ago I met my husband. As early as our first date, he asked me if Jesus was in my heart. I never answered and he asked over and over through the years. Anytime things were not going my way he would say 'If Jesus was in your heart, all of this pain would go away.'
A few years ago we began going to Grace. It was the first time I walked into a church and felt so welcomed. I loved it. I would listen week after week and hear, "Jesus loves you, he died for you. Talk to him; give him your troubles. Have faith. Just believe."
One day I asked God for help. I was feeling extremely down and I just talked to him and said, 'Please take this hurt I am feeling away.' And he did! Then I started talking to him more, asking for him to forgive me for all that I have done wrong. I felt he did. He starting leading me to do good. I started helping others and have started to live such a happier life."
Serve the City for Kids
“My grandson and I had a great time serving at PIN through Serve the City today. Thanks for making that opportunity available to us. We look forward to making this a regular event.”
Each month at Serve the City, we plan several projects that are especially intended for families with children. Whether it’s sorting donations at a thrift store, working in Grace’s Community Garden, or creating tote bags for the homeless, there are great opportunities for you and your kids to have fun while serving our community.
He > I, Tracy's Story
“I came across John 3:30, ‘He must become greater, and I must become less.’ I was struck by the simplicity of the verse…” Check out this video to hear the rest of Tracy’s story about remarkable story of God speaking through the Bible.
"Jesus Accepts Me Just as I Am, Sins and All"
"When I was growing up, I never went to church. In college I was struggling both physically and emotionally and out of nowhere two girls approached me and asked if I had been saved. I said no and they asked if I would like to ask God to be my Savior. Desperate for hope, I said yes. The feeling in the moment was amazing. However, I continued in my ways and didn't take any steps toward building an understanding or relationship with Jesus.
Years later, I was invited to go church with a few of my friends and that is when it all changed. I really connected with the people, the message and the delivery of the message. Once I was ready, I asked Jesus to be my Savior once again and to please forgive me for my sins. This time I was completely overcome with emotion. I knew I was ready and I knew Jesus was accepting me just as I was, sins and all. I knew immediately that I wanted to do anything I could to give back to him for his sacrifice, the security he provided and his unconditional love.
Moving away from the community that I was so active in and that blessed me in so many ways was difficult. I could still receive the message but missed the community and my small group where I had learned so much and felt so safe and loved. I have searched and searched for a church that feels like home and 3 weeks ago I found it. Grace Bible Church is a blessing from God. I am truly blessed and will forever live each day of my life as a follower of my Savior Jesus Christ."
Free Showers for the Homeless
“Everyone has the right to be clean, but if you’re homeless, your options are limited. In our city, we saw a problem and wanted to provide a solution.”
Check out this video to learn about Soap Chips (soapchips.org), a new ministry started by one of our attendees providing portable, clean, private, safe showers to those in need.
"My Scars are Nothing Compared to what Jesus Endured for Me"
“I was marked by Christ on January 1st, 2009 at 5:30 in the morning. I don’t remember much about it, but I woke from a coma three days later in a hospital in Guam…”
"Jesus is Using my Cancer"
Bitter Hopelessness to Radiating Peace & Joy
Naomi was brought to the ministry hospital that Grace supports in Togo, Africa in 2012 after falling into a latrine. After hearing her diagnosis that she'd be a paraplegic the rest of her life, her husband abandoned her at the hospital. She was left angry and depressed. But at the hospital, Naomi heard that Jesus offers spiritual hope and wholeness regardless of one’s physical state. She turned from worshipping Togalese cult practices to trusting in Jesus’ sacrificial death. Her countenance radically changed from bitter hopelessness to radiating peace and joy.
Now, having survived numerous illnesses and prolonged hospital stays, Naomi is flourishing, learning more about the Bible and learning to crochet! She sells her creations—beautiful scarves, hats, purses, water-bottle covers, and other things—which helps with her living expenses, giving her dignity and joy! The Lord is creating grace-changed lives all over the world!
Falling in Love All Over Again
“I ultimately decided to stick it out with our marriage because I am previously divorced and refused to let another marriage go south. So we stuck it out and when I went to Grace, it hit me hard that that was where we needed to be. So, we made the decision to attend church more often and to get involved. It took a couple of months, but it’s working so far.
My husband is reading the Love Dare and earning my trust back and we are working together on being happy. We attend the weekly small group for Art of Marriage, and went to the Serious Fun In Your Marriage this past Friday and really enjoyed ourselves. It’s amazing how much you can learn about yourselves and your marriage through God and the church. My husband is a changed man and we are always evolving. Life is much sweeter when you’re falling in love all over again.”
Following Christ in a Deeper Relationship
“GBC has helped our family to see and hear the truth, apply it to our lives, and want to follow Christ in a deeper relationship. Also, our adult son has returned to church and is excited for Jesus once again. He is inviting all his friends.”
How awesome to get to see God working in families!
Develop My Prayer Life Based on Jesus
Here’s a letter written to Eric we got from this past July:
“The way you broke prayer down to six simple key points makes it so easy for me to understand that I’m easily able to integrate them into my daily prayer. I fully anticipate using the small insert card provided to help me stay on track and restructure my quiet time spent with God. I accept your 30 day prayer challenge, and I’m looking forward to feeling closer with God as I develop my prayer life based on how Jesus taught us to pray.”
A Baby Named Grace
God is doing big things through our relationships in Nicaragua! Check out this story from a Rio Blanco team member from our April trip:
“The day our team arrived, I was overjoyed to see my friend Jalida again. When I left on our previous trip, she was pregnant and our team got to pray for her and for the baby inside. Now she was no longer pregnant, she was holding this precious little baby girl.
After a huge hug, I asked what this little baby’s name was. “Grace Mercy” she said. “What a beautiful name!” I said. “Why did you choose Grace?” Her response stopped my heart for a moment. “We named her Grace because of the impact Grace Bible Church has had in our church and in our family.”
Want to experience what God is doing through our church’s relationships around the world? Learn more here.
Blessing Bags for the Homeless
“Each of the blessing bags my daughter and I made at Serve the City have a little drawing and message inside from the kids to make a homeless person smile. We saw a homeless person after church today and the kids had me turn around so that we could give him one of the bags. My daughter even made me look in the diaper bag for an unopened water bottle to give him. They were both so excited to help him out!
Thank you so much for giving kids the opportunity to make a difference! I can already see the impact it has had on them and hopefully they can have that impact on others as well.”
Ready to make a difference just like this family has? Learn more about Serve the City here.
Setting Up the Norfolk Campus
We’re so excited about our new Norfolk Campus! God is blessing it so much. Here’s a video of the campus being set up a few weeks before the launch.